Ned Vizzini: Writer

Author whose accounts of his battles with depression gave hope to young people who were similarly afflicted

Ned Vizzini was a popular young-adult author and television writer who wrote candidly and humorously about his struggles with depression. Vizzini jumped off the roof of his parents’ home in Brooklyn . His brother Daniel said he had fought mental illness for much of his life and had recently “taken a turn for the worse”.

Vizzini’s autobiographical novel It’s Kind of a Funny Story was adapted into a feature film of the same name. A resident of Los Angeles in recent years, he was a prolific author of fiction and non-fiction and spoke around the country about mental health and the healing effects of writing. On his website, he recommended Andrew Solomon’s The Noonday Demon and the Dalai Lama’s The Art of Happiness to readers coping with depression. “At his signings, countless kids would approach him to say that he changed their lives – he gave them hope,” his publisher Alessandra Balzer said.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story was praised by The New York Times as “insightful and utterly authentic.” It was written in a few weeks and published in 2006. Set in New York, and 85 per cent true, according to Vizzini, it told of an ambitious but overworked high school student who considers jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge and ends up in a psychiatric ward. The film version was released in 2010.

His other books include Be More Chill and The Other Normals, which told of young people who feel like outsiders. This year, he and film-maker Chris Columbus debuted a trilogy of young adult fantasy books, “House of Secrets.” The second is due to appear in March.  Vizzini also was working on the NBC series Believe, a project co-created by JJ Abrams and Alfonso Cuaron. His other TV writing credits include Teen Wolf and Last Resort, while a musical adaptation of Be More Chill is in the works.

Vizzini grew up in Brooklyn and attended one of New York City’s most competitive high schools, Stuyvesant, the basis for the school in It’s Kind of a Funny Story. He had many influences, from Miles Davis to Stephen King, and as a teenager, an essay he wrote about adolescence was published in The New York Times.By the time he was 19 his first book had appeared: Teen Angst? Naaah ... A Quasi Autobiography. His work appeared in The New Yorker, Salon and the Los Angeles Review of Books. Asked why he wanted to be a writer, he replied: “I knew that I wanted to be a writer because I wanted to do something that had the potential to outlast my own death.”

Edison Price Vizzini, writer: born New York 4 April 1981; married (one son); died New York 19 December 2013.

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